Case Study

Felixstowe Pier

precast beams and composite slabs

Working on behalf of Pier Amusements, Milbank Concrete Products designed, produced, delivered and installed a total of 103 precast beams with projecting reinforcement and 114 precast composite slabs.

historical image of Felistowe Pier


Felixstowe Pier was built in 1905, the last of a trio of piers constructed for the Coast Development Company in Suffolk.

These three piers, the other two based at Southwold and Lowestoft, served the ‘Belle’ Steamer fleet, which endeavoured to provide profitable excursions at a time when local steamers faced fierce competition from the increasingly popular railways. Unusual for its time, Felixstowe Pier was created from timber, rather than iron. Developments in ship building had led to foreign timbers, like Jarrah and Greenheart, being used as construction materials, owing to them being more resistant to worm attack and much cost effective.

Once one of the longest piers in Britain, it was complete with electric tramway (3.5ft gauge) that transported passengers and their luggage from end to end. The original cost for a one-way journey was 1 penny. During World War II, when fears over a Hitler invasion raged, many piers including Felixstowe were partly decommissioned by removing the decking or some of the central spans and, in common with several; it was a situation that the pier would never really recover from. The tramway had obviously been suspended and the now isolated seaward end, that had remained neglected throughout the conflict, was considered obsolete. This was subsequently demolished, reducing the pier’s length to a much shorter 450ft (136m).

Design, construction and logistics

in progress installation of precast beams and composite slabs at Felixstowe Pier

Much of the work was tide dependent as access to the pile heads was gained via a ladder at beach level. This could only happen at low tide and working with site management and predicted tide times during the early installation was critical to meeting installation targets.


Where the precast beams meet over the pile heads, projecting end reinforcement was provided to form an in-situ connection between adjoining precast beams and the supporting pile. The deck was completed with a structural topping keyed into the roughened top surface of the precast slabs and the projecting reinforcement from the tops of precast beams to form a monolithic base to build the steel frame off.

in progress installation of precast beams and composite slabs at Felixstowe Pier

From a safety aspect, steel safety platforms with handrails were provided at the pile heads. These platforms provided the necessary safety measures for our installation team to land the precast beams on circular steel plates and unchain them from the crane. A handrail boardwalk was provided around the perimeter to access cantilever beams.

concrete background

Milbank Concrete Precast Beams provide a great alternative to traditional in-situ construction offering several benefits.

Find out more information on our
precast concrete beams page.

  • Ability to install in all weather conditions with the benefit of maintaining project program.

  • Removing the uncertainty of construction costs.

  • Precast beams can be installed much quicker than in-situ.

  • With a precast beam the bearing level will be accurate allowing the following trades to work more quickly and without the same degree of levelling up.

About the project

The project took a huge amount of planning and has provided a new landmark and attraction for the resort. Work began on the multi-million-pound new pier in November 2016 with the demolition of the original pier building being the first stage.

Completed Felixstowe Pier
Close up of completed Boardwalk Cafe and Bar at Felixstowe Pier

The Prom was then raised to link the pier bight area to the new pier entrance. The new pier building is now considerably larger than the original one and includes a boardwalk for promenading around the building over the beach and sea. There is now a café and bar that boasts alfresco dining, bowling, a vibrant family entertainment centre and food kiosks to include the perennial seaside favourites of fish & chips and ice cream.

About the project

The existing part of the jetty that was closed to the public will remain so, other than the small section that can still be used for crabbing and refreshments from the Boardwalk kiosk.

Completed Felixstowe Pier
historical image of Felistowe Pier

The development was originally planned as a 73m building with a semi-circular rear part of the pier, which included a function suite seating 325 people, a second story and a shipping observation tower with walkway.

However, this part of the plan had to be removed because of the enormous costs of offshore works.

“If the revamp proves a success, there is every possibility that it could be extended again to include additional features in the years ahead.”

Pier owner Stan Threadwell

Historical image of plane crashing into Felixstowe Pier

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